McLaren managing expectations ahead of F1 Chinese Grand Prix

It has been a strong start to the 2024 Formula 1 season for McLaren, as the team picked up right where their 2023 campaign ended. Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have picked up points in each of the four races to begin the year, and the team left the Japanese Grand Prix sitting third in the Constructors’ Championship, 35 points clear of fourth-place Mercedes.

That strong start may encounter a bit of a hiccup this weekend.

The grid returns to Shanghai for the first time since 2019 for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, and the layout of Shanghai International Circuit — with some low-speed corners particularly in the first sector — may not suit the current configuration of the MCL38:

Screenshot 2024 04 16 at 9.27.59 PM

In the team’s preview for this weekend, both Norris and Piastri, as well as Team Principal Andrea Stella, did their best to manage expectations accordingly.

“It’s been a while since we’ve raced in Shanghai, so I’m looking forward to returning. Our last race was slightly challenging, but we still managed to get some more points. We have taken some time to go over our learnings and reset for this weekend,” said Norris. “It’ll be good to see what we can do with the Sprint weekend. The different sessions do make it more interesting for everyone. This might not be a circuit that suits us, but we’re prepared to do our absolute best once again.”

For Piastri, who will be racing at the circuit for the first time, the fact that this weekend marks the first Sprint Race of the season adds an extra layer of difficulty.

“I’m excited to race at the Chinese Grand Prix for the first time. The Shanghai International Circuit is a brand-new track for me. Since it’s the first Sprint weekend of the season, it will be very important to try and make the most out of that first practice session to familiarise myself with the track. I’ve been in the sim back at MTC, but of course, it’s different when you’re out on track,” said Piastri.

“Hopefully, we can try and bank some more points for the team and have a positive weekend.”

For the team boss, Shanghai’s layout may pose some problems, as well as some potential weather.

“The Chinese Grand Prix is up next, as we return to Shanghai. This weekend is our first Sprint event for 2024. While this may offer more chances for points, it also adds the challenge of needing to maximise our efforts during the first practice session to gather as much data as possible ahead of the race, especially at a circuit we haven’t raced at for five years,” outlined Stella.

“Of all the circuits we’ve raced at so far this year, it would seem the Shanghai International Circuit may not be the best suited to our car, and we could be met with unpredictable weather,” continued the McLaren boss. “The lack of data for all the teams could present some opportunities and challenges and we will be working hard to make sure we’re well-prepared and, in a position to capitalise where opportunities appear.

“We know where we need to improve to be consistently fighting further up the grid, but as always, we will give it our all this weekend and aim to be in the fight once again.”

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